Anti-crisis: new book on the omnipresence of crisis from Janet Roitman

978-0-8223-5527-4_prThis is a good book from Duke University Press by Janet Roitman at the New School for Social Research.

Crisis is everywhere: in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and the Congo; in housing markets, money markets, financial systems, state budgets, and sovereign currencies. In Anti-Crisis, Janet Roitman steps back from the cycle of crisis production to ask not just why we declare so many crises but also what sort of analytical work the concept of crisis enables. What, she asks, are the stakes of crisis? Taking responses to the so-called subprime mortgage crisis of 2007–2008 as her case in point, Roitman engages with the work of thinkers ranging from Reinhart Koselleck to Michael Lewis, and from Thomas Hobbes to Robert Shiller. In the process, she questions the bases for claims to crisis and shows how crisis functions as a narrative device, or how the invocation of crisis in contemporary accounts of the financial meltdown enables particular narratives, raising certain questions while foreclosing others.

Anti-Crisis will become an instant classic. It is that good. Seeking to understand why crisis has become an ‘omnipresent sign in almost all forms of narrative today,’ Janet Roitman analyzes the constitution of crisis as a privileged object of knowledge, a ground to ‘critical theory’ and the human sciences more broadly, and an instigation to various modes of action in the world. Along the way, she makes crucial interventions in debates about what is critical about critical theory, what the critical human sciences are for, and how they ought to be sustained, or not, in the wake of the restructuring of U.S. higher education. This is a stunning, paradigm-shifting achievement.”—Bill Maurer, author of Mutual Life, Limited: Islamic Banking, Alternative Currencies, Lateral Reason


  1. I’d like to see if she considers Lauren Berlant’s critique of crisis rhetoric which often serves to make the elongated present of slow death seem interrupted, ‘new’.

  2. Reblogged this on Oren Stark.

  3. she may not, especially given the few thinkers you describe Roitman engages with. However, it would be interesting to read their conceptions of crisis against one another, since both seem to ‘de-privilege’ the use of it while still investigating ‘negative affect,’ or the impact of oppressive structures.

  4. gotta love public pdfs, thanks

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